Cowgirls Volleyball Ready for a new Season

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Laramie, WY (KGWN)- Chad Callihan's team finished the 2013 season on a seven game win streak.

That doesn't matter anymore though, at least not to Callihan, it's a new season and a new start.

But the second-year head coach is optimistic that if his team stays healthy, it could mean big things in 2014.

"We've got the opportunity to make the postseason, which is something that hasn't happened here in a longtime," Callihan said.

What is happening in Laramie is a continued progression and a better understanding of Coach Callihan's system.

"I think we're all feeling very confident under Chad's coaching and support system," said junior hitter/blocker Bridget Shanahan.

Shanahan played 126 sets in 2013 and lead the Cowgirls in total kills (338) and was second in blocks (108).

This team will have a different look to it in 2014.

Four seniors, and major contributors, graduated from last season's team.

Gone are 2.75 kills per set from Reese Plante and perhaps even more pivotal, gone are the 624 digs that 2013 Mountain West designated libero Becky Stewart contributed.

That's one position battle that everyone will have their eye on this year.

"We've got four players that we think are capable," Callihan said. "It's just a question of who can be the most consistent and handle that pressure."

There are no question about who will roam the front lines for Wyoming this season, at least not in the middle.

Three-time all-Mountain West player Erin Kirby is back for her senior season.

The Evanston, WY native will play perhaps the most crucial role on the team this year, from her leadership abilities to her contributions on the court.

Kirby lead the team in sets played last year (127) as well as blocks (225), blocks per set (1.77), points (436.5), and kill pct. (.353).

"Our goal this season is just to do well in our conference and hopefully make it to the NCAA tournament, that's been something that we've talked about since I was a freshman," Kirby said.

This team has definitely been putting in the off-season work.

A trip to Europe pit the Cowgirls against some of the top competition in the world.

"We got to play some really good teams," Shanahan said. "We played the Italians which was probably our biggest competition. We even took away some pointers this year, so hopefully we'll be able to use those in our game this year, and bring it to a new level."

The Cowgirls were 5-7 on the road last season, and to the mind of a head coach, the trip may pay dividends on that front.

"We got to play some great competition, it was neat to see the kids begin to excel," Callihan said. "We talked about it [Europe] being a big road trip, we struggled on the road in the past here. So, it was a great trip for us and I think we gained some confidence out of it."

The Cowgirls open the season on August 29 against Washington State at the Montana Invite in Missoula.

Wyoming will play in Evanston on September 1 against Utah Valley and the team's first match in Laramie is September 5 against South Alabama.

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